Citizens of India don’t have right to know sources of political parties’ fundings: Indian govt to Supreme Court

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OCTOBER 30, 2023

Defending the tenets of the electoral bond scheme, the Indian government told the Supreme Court that the citizens “don’t have the right to know” the sources of the funding of the political parties.

Responding to the pleas challenging the scheme, the federal government’s counsellor R Venkataramani, in a statement filed before the court on Monday (Oct 30), said that the scheme extends the benefit of confidentiality to the contributor.

“Firstly, there can be no general right to know anything and everything without being subjected to reasonable restrictions. Secondly, the right to know as necessary for expression can be for specific ends or purposes and not otherwise,” he said, according to LiveLaw outlet.

Right to know cannot be extended to know fundings 

He argued that the judgments upholding the citizens’ right to know of the criminal history of party candidates cannot extended to having the right to information regarding the funding of parties.

“Right to know for specific rightful expression was thus conceived. From that, it cannot be said that the right to know for general or broad ends necessarily follows.”

“Therefore, these judgments cannot be read as to suggest that a citizen has a right to information under Art. 19(1)(a) regarding funding of political party. If there is no right under Article 19(1)(a), the further question of locating reasonable restriction under Article 19(2) does not arise.”

The batch of pleas had challenged the amendments introduced by the Finance Act, 2017, paving the way for the electoral bonds scheme that hides the identity and other details of donors.

The government said that there can be no general right to know anything and everything without being subjected to reasonable restrictions.

SC to start hearing pleas on October 31

“The right to know as necessary for expression can be for specific ends or purposes and not otherwise. Democracy is a wide concept and comprehends many aspects. Right to know for the general health of democracy will be too over-broad,” said Venkataramani’s submissions.

A constitution bench of the Supreme Court will start hearing the batch of petitions challenging the electoral bonds scheme on October 31.

The bench consists of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.

On October 16, a three-judge bench comprising CJI, Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Mishra had referred the matter to a 5-judge bench “in view of the importance of issue raised”.


Courtesy:  WION / PTI